A sleep terror and a night terror are the same thing- they’re called sleep terrors as they can occur during any sleep period.
A sleep terror is something that can be very upsetting for parents. A child having a sleep terror will scream, cry, and will act like they are very frightened. They can even sit up and thrash their arms and legs. Parents may think the child is having a nightmare.
Sleep terrors are more upsetting for parents then they are for children. When parents try to calm their children, they can find that they don’t respond or even recognize them. It is easy to confuse sleep terrors and nightmares.
What can I do if my child is having a sleep terror?
- Make sure your child doesn’t get over tired. Sleep terrors are always worse in an over tired child.
- Go to your child. Make sure they are safe. You’ll want to be there if they wake up, and need comforting. Your child may also try and get out of bed, so make sure you stay with them.
- Don’t try and wake your child, you can actually prolong the sleep terror.
- Try to remain calm. If you are anxious your child can pick up on that if they wake up.
Sleep terrors usually happen in children aged between two and six. Children quite often go back to sleep, sleep soundly and don’t remember anything in the morning. Sleep terrors are a sleep disorder, much like sleep walking and talking. If you’re concerned, talk to your child’s doctor.
My eldest daughter used to suffer from sleep terrors, she would remember nothing about them the following morning! My husband and I would spend hours and hours awake with her and would be so exhausted the following day, but she was fine!
Luckily she hasn’t had a sleep terror in over a year, she was over six when she stopped having them and they were defiantly worse when she was overtired. Keeping her from becoming overtired was really important to us, having a good nights sleep was important to all of us.